The Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) have given the green signal to six state associations from the northeast of the country regarding their participation in the Ranji Trophy as individual units from the 2018-19 season.
Representatives of the six states – Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Sikkim, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh – met Vinod Rai, the CoA chief, in New Delhi on Friday (September 8) to discuss their future in domestic cricket.
After being out of the fold – partly due to lack of interest as well as infrastructure in the states and partly because of a lack of initiative to spread the game in the area on the part of the Board of Control for Cricket in India – for years, the six states wrote to the CoA earlier this month asking them for permission to field a combined unit again this season, as they had in the age-level tournaments last season.
But, with the Ranji Trophy schedule already out and the start of the competition just a month away, it was next to impossible to fit the states in this year.
However, they received an assurance from Rai regarding participating in next year’s Ranji Trophy as individual states.
“It’s important that every state have his own identity. If we are playing as a combined unit, there will be a lot of misunderstandings regarding the team selection. If we can field our own team it will enhance the cricket scenario back home because BCCI will give us special attention. I always wanted to play for Nagaland but that wasn’t possible, as we didn’t have a team. I am really happy that this step has been taken.” – Hokaito Zhimomi, the first from Nagaland to play first-class cricket (for Assam)
“Yes, this is the first time we have got complete assurance from them,” Naba Bhattacharjee, the secretary of Meghalaya Cricket Association, told Wisden India. “We had asked for individual seats and do away with the combined. Our participation will only be possible after we get the acceptance of our full membership from the Supreme Court. There is no time left for this year’s Ranji Trophy so we will have to wait for a year.”
After having played as a combined unit in the national Under-16 and Under-23 tournaments last season, the six states will be allowed to play these competitions as individual teams from this year, with Ratnakar Shetty, the BCCI general manager for game development, given the charge for facilitating everything.
The six states will also now form a separate North East Zone for the Under-16 zonal championship and the Under-23 CK Nayudu Trophy. This, even as Assam and Tripura, also from the north-east but long-standing voting members of the BCCI, continue to be a part of East Zone. The respective state associations must also organise a talent hunt for these two age-levels in October to ensure that the sides have a core of players ready before the domestic event starts.
The only issue is with the Cooch Behar Under-19 Trophy, whose schedule is already out. But it was understood that the CoA would speak to Sourav Ganguly, the BCCI technical committee chairman, and then take a final call on it.
The six units have also requested for the disbursement of their annual grants from the BCCI, and Rai has reportedly instructed them to file an affidavit signed by their presidents confirming that at least 80% of the recommendations of the Justice RM Lodha Committee have been adhered to.
“The supreme court has put a ban on funds for now,” explained Bhattacharjee, who is also the convenor of the BCCI’s North East Cricket Development Committee. “The CoA will support our full membership plea in the apex court. We don’t need a huge amount, we just need enough to run the show.”